Procrastination Plagues Former Iowa Swine Site as Millions of Gallons of Manure Linger for Years

Close-up of a cute little piglet with accents of sunlight streaming through the barn window.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has revealed that the owners of a disused hog confinement in southern Iowa have neglected to dispose of its accumulated manure for over five years. Raul Flores-Castillo and Virginia Flores, the proprietors, recently received an order from the DNR, instructing them to remove all manure from the rural Albia facility’s indoor pits and outdoor lagoon by the year’s end. Failure to comply could result in fines of up to $5,000.

The DNR estimates that the site harbors approximately 2.5 million gallons of liquid manure and nearly 2 million pounds of solids. Despite the facility’s relatively small size, designed for 700 swine and constructed in the 1980s, the potential environmental impact is a concern, especially if structural failure occurs.

Bill Gibbons, a senior environmental specialist for the DNR, emphasized the need for prompt action, citing the potential for significant environmental damage in the event of a catastrophic release. The cleanup costs are expected to run into tens of thousands of dollars.

Flores-Castillo and Flores acquired the swine operation and an associated house in March 2018. However, when the DNR inspected the facility eight months later, it was found to have no animals. State regulations mandate the removal of manure from closed animal confinements within six months, but the operators cited difficulties repopulating the facility and later claimed financial constraints as reasons for the delay, according to the DNR order.

Gibbons noted that the operators are exploring options, including seeking assistance from a federal conservation office to secure a loan for the cleanup. If the manure remains after December 2024, the operators could face fines of $1,000 for each subsequent month of non-compliance with state regulations, accumulating up to $5,000.